The Lonely Forest make perfect sense as the first signing to Death Cab For Cutie member Chris Walla's new record label Trans. The Anacortes, Washington based band specializes in a brand of indie rock that easily will appeal to Death Cab fans. There are harder rock tracks, dreamy, melodic burners, all underscored with a pop sensibility. Now after two independently released albums, they make their major label debut with "Arrows", and its a great one.
The quartet first came to my attention last year when I saw them open for Margot and The Nuclear So And So's at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. From the opening guitar strum of "Turn off This Song And Go Outside", which opened their set, I was hooked. That song, with it's call to 'turn off this song, you can listen to it later. Go outside' is featured here as the first burst of energy after the album opening acoustic ballad "Be Everything".
The only other real subdued moment on "Arrows" comes in the form of one of its stand-out tracks, "I Don't Want To Live Here", a simmering ballad that to these ears owes more than a nod to Ben Gibbard and company. I am sure The Lonely Forest doesn't want to hear a million Death Cab comparisons just because Walla produced this album, and they are far from a sound-alike, but this particular track screams "Plans" with it's key piano lines and atmospheric, swirling guitars.
The rest of "Arrows" is straight up, killer indie rock the way I like it. After declaring "the bullshit never ends" during "(I Am) The Love Skeptic", lead singer John Van Deusen concedes "I want to be addicted to love" on the following companion track, "(I Am) The Love Addict", with its bouncing drum beats and jangly guitars. New single "Coyote" will instantly hook you with its soaring chorus. "Two Notes And A Beat" sounds like a lost New Order track.
There's not a bad song on "Arrows", and some of its best are saved for last. "Woe Is Me...I Am Ruined" has bubbling keyboards running under subdued verses before a shimmering, slamming chorus blasts the doors off. It's simply a great rock & roll song as is the next track "We Sing In Time" which boasts another unforgettable chorus, something The Lonely Forest delivers on track after track.
Bands like The Lonely Forest are the reason I always make a point to get to shows early enough to catch the opening acts. From Grandaddy to the aforementioned Margot and so many more, I'd hate to think what my music collection would look like had I not taken the time to catch these previously unheard of to me bands' opening sets. And trust me, with an album this good, The Lonely Forest will not be opening for anyone for too much longer. Highly recommended.
"Arrows" was released in the U.S. March 22, 2011 on the Trans/Atlantic label.